"He was a huge influence on my life and my adolescence. I grew up with Prince," Lakshmi, 45, told PEOPLE at the TIME 100 soiree. "I remember seeing Apollonia when I was a teenage girl and doing my makeup like that. It was a really big part of my growing up."
Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator about 9:45 a.m. on Thursday after sheriff's deputies received a call for medical help from his Paisley Park Studios home outside Minneapolis. The legendary musician was pronounced dead less than 25 minutes later, authorities in Minnesota say. A cause of death has not been determined
"I don't remember being this upset when any other performer passed away. Not Michael Jackson, not anybody. Bowie, yes, because I know Iman and David," she said, adding, "And I knew Prince too, but I wasn't that close to him. But I just knew him. I've been depressed all week."
Lakshmi was a big fan of the Purple One and much to her surprise, the late singer was a fan of her Bravo reality series. "He was a Top Chef fan. He was very generous," she shared with PEOPLE. "He was funny. He knew what it was."
Not only did the mother of one recall dancing at his final Saturday Night Live appearance, Lakshmi also remembered her favorite Prince memory.
"He was very mischievous. You think that's an act, but he's very witty. He had a great sense of humor," she explained. "I didn't know how small or how much shorter he was than me when I first was talking to him like this. That was a shock. He was 5'2". And barefoot, I'm 5'9". It was incredible to see him live."